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How Do You Prove a Doctor’s Negligence Resulted in a Birth Injury?
When we visit a hospital to deliver our newborn babies, we expect the doctor and his or her medical team to perform up to professional standards. However, not all families receive the best medical care during labor and delivery.
Sometimes, a doctor’s negligence can lead to significant birth injuries in a child that cause lifelong disability and impairment. To prove that a doctor’s negligence led to birth injury, you and your Seattle birth injury attorney will need to satisfy four elements.
#1: Establishing a Duty of Care
Before you can proceed in proving that a doctor’s negligence led to your child’s birth injuries, you will need to prove that the doctor had a duty of care to you and the baby in the first place. Doctors have a duty to provide a certain level of skill and care to their patients, as well as attend carefully to the needs of you and your baby. However, the doctor must have been involved with the delivery in a professional capacity.
This element is in place to protect doctors from claims of medical malpractice outside of their professional work – for example, if someone asks his or her doctor friend for an opinion on an illness at a party, he or she cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit against that doctor if the medical advice was wrong. You can file a lawsuit against your attending physician or delivery doctor.
You will have to prove that the doctor was acting in a professional capacity and was involved in the baby’s labor and delivery. You can prove that the doctor owed you a duty of care by showing medical records, documents, and hospital bills.
#2: Breaching the Duty of Care
Next, you will need to prove that the doctor breached his or her duty of care to you and the baby during the course of delivery. You will have to present evidence that the doctor did not act in the same manner during the delivery of your baby that a similarly trained and educated doctor would have.
Doctors can breach their duty of care to their patients during labor and delivery in a number of ways.
- Failure to properly monitor machines for signs of fetal distress
- Failure to diagnose post-birth complications and conditions, such as jaundice
- Failure to order a medically necessary cesarean section
- Misuse of medical tools to aid in delivery, such as vacuums and forceps
- Failure to diagnose infections or other conditions during pregnancy
- Use of dangerous or inappropriate delivery techniques
- Prescribing the wrong medication
Any of these acts can lead to significant birth injuries to a child. Proving this element can be very complicated – you may have to collect witness testimony, expert opinions, and specialized documentation to support your claim.
#3: Injuries Due to Negligence
Next, you will have to prove that the doctor’s breach of duty of care led to your child’s birth injuries. This is another difficult element to prove, but with the resources of a birth injury attorney on your side, you can build a compelling case in your child’s favor.
Proving your child’s birth injuries were a result of doctor negligence may require evidence from birth injury experts who can link the doctor’s actions to the injury. For example, if a doctor failed to monitor your baby’s heartbeat, leading to a lack of oxygen during birth and resulting brain damage, the medical expert can provide scientific testimony explaining how this occurs.
#4: Collectable Damages
Finally, you will need to prove that your child suffered damages that you can collect in a birth injury lawsuit. You can collect many types of economic and non-economic damages through a lawsuit.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Disability accommodations
- Surgeries and medications
- Medical equipment
- In-home caregiver costs and therapy treatments
- Loss of quality of life and long-term disability
- Pain and suffering
Proving a doctor’s negligence can be difficult without the assistance of a birth injury attorney. Your attorney can provide guidance throughout your case and prove the above elements, helping you investigate and build a compelling case in your child’s favor. As soon as you realize that your child may have a birth injury caused by a doctor’s negligence, contact an attorney as soon as possible.